January 9, 2012

Simplify Your Life Series: Clutter Control

If you're looking to simplify a little bit of your life or achieve a major overhaul then join me for our ten part series as we work along side Country Living's Simple Country Wisdom: 501 Old-Fashioned Ideas to Simplify Your Life by Susan Waggoner.  I touch base on a few points in each chapter and expound upon them and share some of my own tips.  Grab your favorite cuppa and join along!  (Start at the beginning HERE.)

The Home That Welcomes
Clutter Control

The marketing industry wants us to believe that we need more things.  I agree that a buy one get one free sale is tempting but all those things can add up to one big cluttered mess!  That clutter can hinder us in many ways.  Clutter can get in our way not just physically but socially as well.  For me personally I get cranky when the house starts to clutter up.  When it's cluttered I don't want to entertain guests.  Who wants to see someone else's mess?

Nip the clutter in the bud!  Before it even finds a place to live and start to multiply!  (It seems to do that, doesn't it?!)  Since we are a big family we are often given hand-me-down clothes.  If I kept all of the clothes that everyone ever gave me I wouldn't be able to walk through my house!  Don't get me wrong. I'm thankful for their generosity, but we really don't need to keep everything.  What I do to cut the clutter is set the bags on the bench by the door until I can get to them some time that day.  When I sort through them I take out what I want to keep (put it in the laundry so it gets washed and put away soon) then the bag of items we don't need is sent to the van to drop off at the Goodwill on our next trip to town.

Same goes for books.  We're given books a lot.  School books, theological books, cook books, magazines, etc.  I flip through the books/magazines and if there's enough to peak my interest they go to a proper home in the house.  If they're not interesting enough...to the Goodwill bag they go. Besides, with the modern convenience of the internet we have so much information at our fingertips!

Our children are perpetual packrats.  I think they get that from my dad.  He kept my old swingset and stored it in the attic of their garage not getting rid of it until they sold their house to move about 9 years ago.  Yes, my dad kept my swingset almost two decades after I was done using it!  In order to keep that gene in check with our children we make it a point to deep clean their rooms regularly.  The week before Christmas we had them sort through their belongings.  We made a deal with them that for every grocery store bag they filled with toys or stuffed animals we would give them one dollar.  We were paying them to get rid of stuff!  They were ecstatic!  We were $23 in the hole, but we were free from 23 bags of stuff they no longer played!  With their money one child put it towards her savings for a camera.  Another bought a new Webkinz.  Our oldest is into building with motors, batteries and techie things like that so he bought some parts and pieces with his money.  In our eyes it was a win-win situation!

It's nice to deep clean on occasion (like spring cleaning), but to keep the house in tiptop shape on a regular basis we have regular chores.  I have my regular chores and the kids have theirs. (And of course my poor hubby has his never ending honey-do list.) We've added to their lists that each kiddo has a room they need to tidy up before dinner.  It's supposed to be every night and it works best if it happens this way, but some days are very busy before dinner so it waits until after dinner or before bed.

Another thing that has helped me in my clutter maintenance was to toss the guilt!  You don't have to save everything!  I have a hard time letting go of something that was a gift that just isn't my size, style, or fits my needs.  Instead of it cluttering up my home and doing no one any good sitting on a shelf or hanging in a closet I have decided that it's o.k. to give it to Goodwill or to a friend.  Lest you think I'm cold and heartless let me just say you should see my cedar chest, the top of my closet, and a few totes in the basement.  Moving right along...a-hem.

Speaking of closets...we all keep things that don't fit us hoping that they will some day.  Right?  For me I've started just in the last few months getting rid of skirts and dresses that I haven't worn since before baby number three over ten years ago!  Fashions have changed and I need to, too.  I made a big trip to Goodwill that week and I suddenly have extra hangers!

Something that's on my list of things to do at the end of winter is account for all the winter gear.  Round up all the coats, scarves, mittens, and hats and decide which should be given away, thrown away, and kept.  (I think I have a few mittens out in the mudroom that are destined to an orphan's life!)  Wash and dry them. Pack them away in totes with cedar wood blocks to keep them fresh.  If the cedar scent has vanished do what the author does -- give them a light sanding with sandpaper and the scent will come back full strength.

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What tips helped you best?  What might you do this week to control your clutter?

Join me in the coming weeks as we unwrap the present that is our lives.  The next step in our series is making our home pleasing to our senses.  Please share this series by placing the button in the side bar of your blog or share on Facebook by clicking the "Like" button under this post.

* photos courtesy of Country Living

This post is part of the Homestead Barn Hop.


Carla said...

I love this!! I am also a big tiddy bug. I'm right there with you on the "keeping the clothes from before I was married" 10 years ago. I try to get rid of something old when I get something new. This really helps. Looking forward to this series. This blog is a blessing to me!
Blessings to you,
Carla <><

Ann at eightacresofeden said...

Clutter also makes me cranky - even when I cannot see it! Just knowing it is in a closet taking up space annoys me. I also face the dilemma of being given clothing and books. I graciously decline the offers of sets of encyclopedias but sometimes people turn up at church or on the doorstep with stuff they don't want cluttering up their house but think it should be recycled and maybe our family will 'find a use for it'. We were once given 3 jumbo size garbage bags full of old clothes for the children. They were from the 1970's - and I'm talking nylon flares and souvenir t shirts (no nice vintage dresses!) - there was not one item I could bring myself to dress my children in and they thought it hilarious that their dad had dressed in such styles when he was a boy! Hard thing was the people who gave it to us thought they were helping me out but it took a morning to go through the stuff and then I had to drive into the city to find a charity recycling bin. I had to be honest and tell them that the clothes were not suitable. I'd be interested to know how you respond to the 'givers of stuff.'
I loved the idea of paying the children to get rid of stuff, why have I never thought of that before? Pure genius!
Thank you for sharing this series - a great idea to use a book as you go through it.

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